Mike Mahan, managing director of Stanley Ventures, is one of our 50 emerging leaders in corporate venturing in 2023.

Mike Mahan describes his corporate venture unit as a traditional strategic CVC that prioritises commercial agreements and cooperation between the startups and the parent company’s business units. To make this go smoothly, he advises establishing strong relationships in the parent company that will generate support for the CVC programme. “It is going to generate trust in your initiatives in your CVC unit. It will help you get deals done and have success after you invest.”

Mahan joined Stanley Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of US tool company Stanley Black & Decker, in 2016. He belongs to a team of just two people after the unit’s headcount was cut from six people last year. The team of two manage 36 portfolio companies, sit on boards and also do new investments. 

“Don’t try to do it from afar. Get your hands dirty in doing the work.”

With such a small team, Mahan says it is important to prioritise spending time with investments that have the most strategic impact to the parent company or generate the most interest from the business units. Staying connected with startup CEOs is also critical. “Don’t try to do it from afar. Get your hands dirty in doing the work,” he says.

Dina Routhier, president of Stanley Ventures, says Mahan is able to source “superb investment candidates” through his well-connected investor network. She also praises his ability to structure mutually beneficial equity investments and commercial agreements. 

Mahan counts two investments that Stanley Black & Decker acquired as his most successful. One was in the security sector and became the centrepiece of the parent company’s security business, which it sold to Securitas AB for $3.2bn in 2021. The other investment is in construction tech, which became the foundation of the corporate’s construction tech strategy, says Mahan.

His focus in 2023 is on investments in the tools and outdoor sectors. This is a much narrower focus than in previous years and reflects the parent corporation’s concentration on its core businesses after it divested areas it had expanded in, such as oil and gas, security and healthcare. 

See the rest of our Top Emerging Leaders for 2023 here.

Kim Moore

Kim Moore is the deputy editor of Global Venturing and produces video for the website.